For the second straight year, Sussex Central High School’s Mock Trial Team earned the opportunity to compete for the state championship in the Delaware State Mock Trial Tournament.
The competition was held February 24-25 at the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington. Sussex Central earned its position in the championship round by defeating the mock trial teams of A.I. DuPont, Wilmington Christian, Newark Charter and Mt. Pleasant. Sussex Central narrowly lost to Wilmington Friends in what was described by judges as the closest scoring championship round in the competition’s 26-year history.
The only other Sussex County team to reach in the championship round in the history of the tournament was the 2016 Sussex Central team.
This year’s SCHS team was led by student attorney Holly Williams, a junior who dominated the competition by winning three of the four gavels awarded to the “Best Attorney” of the individual rounds. In addition, she was honored with the gavel for “Best Attorney” in the championship round. She earned this recognition by creating a clear and concise line of direct questioning for her witness that highlighted the key facts in support of her position. She also developed an effective line of cross questioning to challenge the testimony of the opposition. The only “Best Attorney” gavel not won by Williams was won by her teammate Rowan Reusing.
The student attorneys and witnesses at SCHS have spent many long hours over the past three months crafting their trial strategy, questions and courtroom procedures to prepare for the competition. Coach Helen Elliott attributes the team’s success to hard work and a commitment to success. Members of the team were:
Plaintiff Attorneys Witnesses
Holly Williams Emma Evans
Nate Greenlee Devon Lynch
Jalique Frederick Tarron Coursey
Defense Attorneys Witnesses
Holly Williams Blair Williams
Rowan Reusing Nate Greenlee
Braden Swain Daniella Fortado
Team Time Keeper
The SCHS team would like to give special recognition to the team’s attorney coaches, Ms. Ashley Bickel, Esq. of the Gonser & Gonser law firm and Mr. Eric Hacker of the Morris James law firm, both located in Georgetown. Coach Jordan Marvel attributed the team’s success to the dedication and energy of the attorney coaches who guided, trained and inspired the team.
Sussex Central Principal Bradley Layfield said the school and the Indian River School District are proud of team’s repeat accomplishment in this intellectual competition. Additionally, he noted “intellectual and artistic competitions may be more important than sports competitions but do not always enjoy the same level of recognition.”
The annual competition is sponsored by the Delaware Law Related Education Center (DELREC) and featured 26 public and private high schools in a two day tournament to determine which school would represent Delaware at the national championship to be held later this year. The teams began their preparation for the tournament in November after DELREC released the case. Both student lawyers and witnesses must analyze and master the facts of the case. Student attorneys must develop a line of questioning to present the facts in support of their position and those questions must comply with the rules of the court and the competition. Student witnesses must master their witness statements and be able to create a believable portrayal of their character witness. During the competition, in addition to presenting their case before the court, student lawyers must be able to make and defend objections to information presented during trial. Student witnesses must be able to respond in court to the line of direct questioning by their attorney and cross examination by the opposing attorney. The competition is refereed by judges and scored by attorneys of the Delaware Bar Association who volunteer their time to this educational competition.
Back row (from left): Attorney coach
Eric Hacker, Daniella Furtado, coach Jordan Marvel, Faith Kinsler, coach Helen
Elliott, Jalique Frederick, Emma Evan, Tarron Coursey, Blair Williams, Rowan
Reusing, coach J.T. Tober, Braeden Swain, attorney coach Ashley Bickel and
coach Tom Murphy. Seated: Nate Greenlee and Holly Williams. Front: Devon Lynch.